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Today, on July 6th, in the presence of the Army Inspector General Lieutenant Alfons Mais, the first new H 145 LUH SAR helicopters were put into operation by the Bundeswehr SAR Command in Niederstetten. There are currently three locations on land - Niederstetten in Baden-Württemberg for the southern area, Nörvenich near Cologne for the western area and Holzdorf in Saxony-Anhalt for the eastern part of Germany. The other two locations will receive the new helicopter in March 2021. SAR commands from the Bundewehr are stationed at military airports, since all the necessary facilities (e.g. weather advice, flight advice, etc.) for flight preparation and execution are available there.

Each command usually has a SAR helicopter with two pilots and an air rescue master (paramedic). The crew is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is changed weekly. If an emergency is reported to the SAR control center in Münster, the SAR command alerts them. This then has 15 minutes during the day and 60 minutes at night until the helicopter is in the air and flies to the scene of the accident.

The primary task of a SAR commando is to rescue and rescue soldiers or to search for missing or crashed aircraft and their occupants. Furthermore, they can also undertake operations in the context of general rescue services (traffic accidents, patient transports, etc.) and civil protection (fire fighting, etc.).

 

Switch to a new system

With the first training of aircraft crews in September 2019, the hot phase of the generation change in the area of ​​Search and Rescue began. The crews are retrained in theory and practice on the new Search and Rescue (LUH SAR) light helicopter. They get to know and operate one of the most modern helicopters of the Bundeswehr, the Airbus H145, in almost all its facets. The H145 replaces the Bell UH-1D, which, after around 52 years in the service of the Bundeswehr, will be released into well-deserved retirement in 2021.

 

High performance

With its two 600 HP engines, this new helicopter has enough power to cope with the maximum take-off weight of 3,800 kg under almost all conditions. If there is a problem with one of the two engines, the LUH SAR has a single-engine performance that is rare in this weight class for safe flight operations. The crew can also rely on the support of a 4-axis autopilot to complete their operational and training flights day and night, in visual and instrument flight conditions.

For this purpose, the three GPS and five radio devices together with the TV and thermal imaging camera (including the L3 Wescam MX-15 EO / IR Generation 5), the high-performance searchlight TrakkaBeam A800 (range 1,000 m with spot or area illumination up to 70 m in diameter and double high beam intensity including white light, various color filters and three IR levels) and the various other clarification and location options of the LUH SAR. Several radio direction finders (including those from Cobham) are installed in the helicopters to track down all military and civil emergency radios, but also to locate mobile radio devices. The crews are able to communicate with the military, official and civilian counterparts by radio. The SAR control center in Münster will be able to communicate directly with the SAR commands as well as with the helicopters via two-way communication and to be able to send and receive operational data almost without delay.

If the crew has successfully completed a search, the Vincorion rescue winch (90 m rope length, max. 249 kg payload) can be used to rescue people and material from difficult terrain - in comparison: The Bell UH-1D only had one Rope length of 45 m.

Subsequently, with the help of the medical equipment kit, she can also guarantee emergency medical care comparable to that of the civil rescue helicopter. The LUH SAR will also be able to transport external loads of up to 1,500 kg and the Bambi-Bucket 1821 fire extinguishing container with approx. 820 liters. Due to its modern equipment, modular construction and various configuration options, the LUH SAR is also ideally suited for future military and civilian tasks.

 

Better economy

So one thinks in the Bundeswehr about using the H145 LUH SAR not only in the civil area, but also tactically in the future - practically as Forward Air MedEvac "Light". Around 18 additional machines are to be procured for this purpose.

In order to be able to carry out the generation change almost without disruption, it will probably be necessary to fly on two tracks by mid-2021. On the one hand, the new LUH SAR is tested and then introduced, on the other hand, the ongoing SAR operation is maintained. Then the Bell UH-1D is put out of service.

The Bundeswehr has ordered seven new H145 LUH SAR machines, five of which have so far been delivered. To operate the SAR service on land, four machines must be available, one for each SAR command plus one as a reserve. To date, over 20 Bell UH-1D machines have been required to maintain service. In the future, only seven machines will be necessary instead of more than 20, which means much more economical.

André Forkert